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The Cuelessness Model

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 3 months ago

CMC obviously lacks verbal communication, which is why The Cuelessness Model can better describe how CMC works.  Cuelessness is communication that lacks all nonverbal cues such as facial expressions, hand gestures, appearance, tone of voice, and body language.  Cuelessness also lacks certain identity markers such as social status, occupational role, age and gender.  These cues play an important part in communication by presenting a range of social and emotional information.  Words are not the only way to communicate, however with CMC, it is very difficult to communicate using anything else.  Because there is an absence of these cues in CMC, scholars have proposed that CMC creates a 'psychological distance', which causes CMC to be more impersonal than face-to-face communication.  Because of The Cuelessness Model, CMC can be argued as good or bad.  It can be good, because it is harder to judge someone without knowing their status.  With CMC, people can be less prejudiced by social status and appearance, allowing them to communicate with others on a deeper level.  However, CMC can also be a bad thing because it is more prone to be clumsy and unspontaneous.  It also lacks feedback cues such as "uh huh" and "yeah" which help to show that someone is listening intently to the entire conversation.  According to Russell Spears and Martin Lea (1992), one of the most apparent problems with The Cuelessness Model is that it is too generalized.  For example, they mention telephone hotlines and their absence of social cues.  However, this lack of social cues makes the telephone perfect for intimate conversation.  They also say the same about a love notes.  They argue that some communication can lack social cues, but it can still be pschologically close.  When we look at it this way, we must first examine the purpose for the communication.  For more information on this arguement, we can also take a look at The Reduced Social Cues Model.


The Reduced Social Cues Model (Sproull and Kiesler, 1986; Kiesler and Sproull, 1992) is closely related to The Cuelessness Model, however takes a somewhat different approach.  RSC is mainly concerned with the negative impact that CMC has upon groups, basing itself on the loss of social cues in text-based interactions.  Here, a social cue can be defined as "either static (e.g. clothing and hairstyles) or dynamic (e.g. facial expressions and gestures) and communicate a sense of status, power and leadership."  As mentioned before, they also include feedback responses such as "uh huh" and "yeah".  The RSC model mainly argues that the lack of social cues in CMC makes it much more difficult hold a fluid conversation.  The RSC model also argues that CMC makes communication more effortfull overall.  Basically, CMC allows people to behave however they want without the limits that face-to-face communication would have.  This makes group decisions more extreme, causing people to most likely become more aggressive online.

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